Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2

Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 Album Title:
Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2
Record Label:
Team Entertainment
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
April 9, 2003
Buy at CDJapan


Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- was a talking matter for RPG fans since 1999, though few suspected it would take as long as five years to get an international release. The game was announced before the PlayStation 2 was even released to the public, and was intended to be Enix’s first use of the hardware. Though the previous Star Ocean games were not hugely popular, they had gained a considerable number of fans, particularly in Japan. Although Dragon Quest was the main series Enix was known for, when the company began promoting Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- and promising its good quality, more than a few people were interested; like the previous instalments of the series, it would be developed by the offshoot company tri-Ace, feature an epic science-fiction story and support a musical score by Motoi Sakuraba.

Surprisingly, the game did not enjoy the success that it was promised, apparently full of glitches and problems that hampered the player’s overall enjoyment. It came as even more of a surprise that Enix briskly merged with the genre giant Squaresoft, which was suffering major financial problems after the box office flop of Final Fantasy The Spirits Within. Some speculate that the Japanese release of Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- was impaired by the merge and that the beta testing phase must have been finished hurriedly and not to full effect as a consequence.

Yet it was not abandoned, and a Director’s Cut edition was issued later under new company name ‘Square Enix’, having fixed the problems found before — it was this version that received an international release. Featuring new areas, cutscenes and FMVs, Motoi Sakuraba was hired once again to compose the music, thus resulting in the Director’s Cut soundtrack. Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 contains most of the incidental music from the original release of the game, featuring the pieces that accompany its minor cutscenes and the battle sequences. It also contains many of the area themes found in the second half of the game arranged in a roughly chronological order.


Unlike in the case of Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 1, Sakuraba wastes no time with lengthy introductions for the first CD of the second. “Cutting the Edge of Notion,” the main battle theme, is up first and we are thrown straight into the action. It starts with a short guitar build-up before quickly introducing us to the main melody played on a rock organ. From the very beginning, it is clear that it is not up to the lofty standards of the amazing “Stab the Sword of Justice” from Star Ocean -The Second Story-, but I think we can let that slide, since it would be an incredibly tough piece to live up to. It does its job well, and Sakuraba manages to avoid making it too heavy so as to prevent it from becoming overwhelming in its context. I happen to find it quite an enjoyable piece that would not be strenuous to listen to, even when you are stuck in the game; this, of course, is a good sign, because I think even if players were not to take much notice of the music, the main battle theme is played continually throughout the course of it and might aggravate anybody if they happened to get lost in a dungeon and attacked — for it not to do so arguably improves the gaming experience. The track actually borrows from the main theme, which is interesting, since its use was fairly slight in the first volume. Unfortunately, the battle theme is followed by “Victory Bell,” an awfully boring victory jingle that ruins the mood and makes the first impressions of the album quite weak in comparison with the first. It actually would have been much better had it been left out, because the following progressive rock track, “Expiration” very much takes on the same tone as the battle theme. It also happens to be one of the finest tracks on the album, restoring the quality that one would expect from a Star Ocean soundtrack. In a way that seems like a transcending inspired by “Cutting the Edge of Notion,” we are spoiled by some superb electric guitar work and appropriate accompanying synth that create a lively, memorable tune that not only gets stuck in your head when you are not listening to it, but is also a blast in the game. The track definitely succeeds at sounding adventurous, and gives the impression of brimming confidence — you are ready to challenge anything that confronts you, the wild guitar melody assures. All things said, it is one of the greatest tracks on the album despite featuring so early on and the short guitar solo towards the end just seals my appreciation. After relating how “Expiration” guns you up for whatever Sakuraba might throw into the mix next, I suppose that it is only fitting that I describe the main boss themes.

The first of these presented is “Malicious Fingers,” a track that manages to seem fairly average compared to some of Sakuraba’s stronger boss themes. It is a very traditional approach from the composer though, and fits in with the rest of the soundtrack despite being a rather frail attempt. In Sakuraba’s usual style, the most prominent instruments are an electric guitar and a rock organ, and each work in a familiar supportive manner. I can only conclude that it is something about the tune itself that is shabby, because the bass guitar work is actually quite promising and the instrumentation is, as I have mentioned, no different from normal. Sadly, I could easily make the same complaints about the second effort, “Frightened Eyes.” It would have been better had it actually been ‘frightening’ or intimidating in some way, but, instead, it seems unexciting and lacks the punch that Sakuraba’s battle themes usually have. This is a shame, I feel, because the battle tracks that feature from this point onwards on the album are some of the man’s best, and these weaker additions prevent it from being one of the soundtrack’s highlights. After about a minute of clichÈd monotony, the second boss piece features some interesting piano work, and the conclusion is pretty nice, which are the only two comments I could really find to give in its favour. The listener would be mistaken to make assumptions after these average pieces however, as things get a lot better in the form of “The Divine Spirit of Language.” This monumental boss theme is only used once, during a critical battle at the end of first half in the game; the fact it features so early on in the volume gives you an idea of what has happened during the separation of the two halves of the score. In my review for Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 1, I mentioned how the majority of the music used was from the opening half of the game and that the split was more harmful than useful in my eyes, though debatably rational. At this early point, I would like to reiterate the idea that by distributing two different volumes the overall experience sometimes suffers from a suddenness where a row of tracks are put together that do not always work. This seems to be an early example &#151 of the seven tracks that kick off the album, six are fast paced (“Victory Bell” is short and bad anyway), and some of them, like the aforementioned boss track and the adrenaline pumping “Expiration” are really good, but grouped like so there is a sense of non-stop, jumbled action with no slower tracks to break the ice and no tense-filled tracks to stress the danger.

I like videogame soundtracks to be something like a wordless film, where you can imagine what is happening as the music progresses &#151 all I get here is ‘a powerful enemy; a more powerful enemy; an even bigger one than that’ which I do not appreciate at all. This happens to be even more of a flaw in Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 than it was in predecessor. Regardless, I do not want to move us too far away from the effectiveness of “The Divine Spirit of Language,” because it is at that, albeit badly placed. From the opening guitar passage and solid rhythm we can already tell that this is going to be a powerful track, and when the main tune kicks in, the piece gets even stronger. If you thought “Expiration” pumped you up, then this boss theme is bound to make your blood start boiling with exhilaration. That which puts this in a different league to the battle tracks before it is the way that the composition starts off in a potent fashion, and keeps that momentum up the whole way through. After the main motif has played there is slower section, followed by a gripping guitar solo really giving off an aura of authority. But it doesn’t stop there, it just keeps on going, into another section where it sounds like the lead and accompanying guitars are playing out an arrangement of some of the more heroic themes from the game (with the underlying melody and complementary chords sounding like classic Sakuraba work); this is followed up by yet another commanding interlude &#151 the track just fails to give up, and when it actually does loop, I found myself wanting to listen to it again because it just is that effective. It truly is a fantastic boss theme, but does not take the crown, as that place is reserved for a track yet to come.

It is unfortunate indeed, that such a great track must be followed by something that is comparatively weak and non-descript; that is the case here. “Pert Girl on the Sandy Beach” is not that bad &#151 it is relaxing and quite appropriate, but it is hardly going to win many fans after such a killer boss track. Sakuraba demonstrates at least, that he has the capability to compose at many different levels, exampled by this particular transition where captivating progressive rock becomes laid-back, carefree fun. I still could not say that I am in the slightest a fan, or that I am of the next track, “Gaiety Company.” This piece is a perfect example of something not quite succeeding even after a valiant effort. In the game it seemed well suited to the slightly odd business that allows you to create items, but here it sounds like at an attempt at emulating an Irish folk style. It is not a bad effort either, but just does not really fit in the soundtrack very well at this point, and sounds like a bit of a filler track up until some of the later development stages. To its credit, the thirty second passage between 0:50 and 1:20 is top-notch, but the rest of the track is not good enough to make it stand out from the crowd overall. “Evil Shade Crept” is even less creditable, with merely a suspended E note, discreet drumbeats and an extraordinary synth instrument trying to build up tension. It may work in the game, but on the album it seems simplistic and lacklustre. Indeed, for our next true good track, we have to look to the town theme “Rust Colour.” Its appearance on this volume was a surprise, but perhaps it is better suited overall anyway. A lovely acoustic guitar strums in the background throughout, as the other instruments create a serene, homely feeling. I lack many words to describe the musical effect of the instrument that dominates the second part of the melody, but on a more frivolous plane it sounds like the type of thing that might be used to represent a farm, essentially out of the way and distanced from the rest of the world. Much like the town itself, I suppose, which manages to stay out of the war as much as possible though being on Airyglyph’s ground. This contrasts with the Aquarian town themes on volume 1 significantly, which was an interesting, but intriguing choice by the director.

The album proceeds then, to a cluster of filler tracks. Disc One of this volume suffers greatly due to three particular pieces. These are “Bracing Forest Wind,” “Let’s Creation!!!” and “What’s Up?” &#151 all of which are poor standalone material. Some might argue that they were used well in the game, and others might say that they are simply bad compositions. I would feel inclined to agree with both sides of the argument &#151 they were good in their original places, but should have been left off the final soundtrack because they all seem deficient on their own. “Bracing Forest Wind” is irritating; “Let’s Creation!!!” is also annoying, though some of the conclusive development is not bad and “What’s Up?” is simply a laughable piece. When I smile at it, I don’t know whether it is at its childish clumsiness or its downright awfulness. The use of a honky-tonk is a nice change, but why it was put on the album I don’t know. Either way, each of these hampers the album a great deal in my eyes, and makes the first CD lose much of its respect. Luckily, there are some good area themes to retain what remaining dignity it has. “Fly away in the Violet Sky” is one of the earlier pieces I didn’t mention &#151 the track is dominated by some nice synth and rock organ use which help to give a subtle sense of danger as well as seeming genuinely upbeat and making for an interesting listen. It uses a format similar to many of Sakuraba’s other area themes, and will probably only appeal to those who like that kind of piece. “Bird’s Eye View” might hold more widespread appeal &#151 following the examples of “Expiration” and “Fly away in the Violet Sky,” the track keeps a firm catchiness to it, but somehow seems more universally appealing in its contemporary quest-like fashioning. It is lively, well developed, and is another great example of the ideal exploratory area theme that works well in bridging two close towns together. After all, at the point you first tread this road in the game, spirits are quite high, as Fayt and his companions are finally heading toward the castle town and palace that are so important to the Aquarian heritage.

The next example of an area theme is “Adventurous Spirit.” The title sums this one up, but it takes a slightly different tone to its predecessors. It reminds me, in fact, for the most part of the type of track you might find in a platform game; maybe like one of those castle levels songs in the Crash Bandicoot series. The pizzicato strings are most effective in their repetitive nature, giving a discreetly forceful edge to the song and fittingly underscoring the stronger brass instruments. I particularly like the way this composition is developed; shortly after a minute has passed, the pizzicato string notes begin to dance captivatingly, allowing the horns to sound off a stronger melody. This prepares us for the epic climax that begins at around 1:35, which is fairly stirring, and manages to contrast with the playfulness of the rest of the theme creating a more serious, anxious atmosphere. It was good to hear a slightly moodier track on the CD, because up until this point the pieces have been noticeably optimistic. The piece that bridges the gap between “Adventurous Spirit” and the next area theme is another fun one-off track, but luckily has some compositional merit where its counterparts did not. “I am the No.1” was understandably more effective in its accompanying cutscene (but then, so was the comical “What’s Up?”), but even by itself remains an interesting take by Sakuraba on the western cowboy guitar style, which sounds humorous in an almost slap-stick way. The development is done surprisingly well and a short bit of guitar work between 0:55 and 0:58 (repeated again at 1:02-105) reminds me of the “Punch and Judy” theme from Yoko Kanno’s Cowboy Bebop score, helping to make it an unpredictably enjoyable venture. This is not a type of music I can recall Sakuraba exploring before and it is always good to see a composer trying something different.

“Around in the Wilderness” is one of the more popular tracks from the album, and rightly so. Its carefree approach is rather inspiring in that it perfectly radiates this idea of the character’s blasé attitude towards meeting their goals &#151 this does not make the listener sense danger, but is still persuasive enough to assert a sense of direction. It is used more than once in the game, but perhaps most effectively in a desert setting. Since a dungeon follows it, Sakuraba obviously decided that he wanted the theme of the sand dunes to seem fresh and vitalized, forming a distinction between them and the thriving menaces that await. The guitar and synth instruments also create an air of spaciousness that adds to the on-screen visuals. This makes “Robe under Cover of Darkness” stand out even more, because it is actually pretty much the opposite in every way. Claustrophobia is what this track is all about. The sparing piano, piercing violins and unusual ethereal cries all meld together to form a mysterious piece that generates fervent images of being trapped and lost in a place of horror. This was obviously the framework for “Rotted and Decayed” from the Baten Kaitos soundtrack, which shares similar frightening tendencies. It also, however, reminded me of two other video game pieces that have a distinctly similar sound &#151 these were “Bevelle’s Secret” from Matsueda and Eguchi’s Final Fantasy X-2 score, and “M3-Start” from the Devil May Cry 3 soundtrack. I presume my main associations with these two other themes are the twisted violins that form the canopy of the track, leaping from some lower ominous notes to a high discordance before falling in again in a very smooth manner, only achievable, presumably, by a stringed ensemble.

To close the first CD, we have a nice futuristic threesome, systematically introducing those advanced, synth dominated tracks that the previous volume lacked. This is more like the kind of thing you would expect from a Sci-Fi RPG, and an old friend is up first. Hoping to salvage the respect of people who did not enjoy the previous two, “So Alone, be Sorrow~ Rhythm Ver” takes the floor, in a clearly less classical way than its namesakes. While I personally would not put in on par with the amazing composition of the piano version, the track is one of the stronger ones on this album too; nicely merging dance beat material with the melodic qualities of its predecessors. The development is very impressive &#151 just after a minute there is a short interlude that sounds influenced by Masashi Hamauzu’s unique harmonic style and about a minute after that we are brought to a lovely emotional conclusion with compelling pacing and forceful percussion. The other two of the “So Alone, Be Sorrow” family took on a more morbid tone; especially the original title track, and while that feeling of helplessness is never quite extinguished, by the time we hear the “Rhythm” arrangement, we can guess that a rebel movement of some sort is moving to put an end to the misery. This concept could be associated with the endless war between tired Airyglyph and Aquios, or even the universal struggle with the Vendeeni that is proved to be all encompassing by the point this track is played in the game. This is Maria, we hear &#151 This is a woman who is going to put an end to the destruction. Well I must congratulate Sakuraba; even if he did not intend to give out such an elaborate message as I have interpreted, this is a great track, and one of the more moving pieces on the volume.

“Pre-emptive Attack” follows a little more discreetly but still supports some nice, flavourful synth instruments, which dance around the place to spawn the theme of industriousness. The synth bass is particularly active, practically setting up the track alongside the unusual percussion rhythm. Contrary to what the title might have you believe, the track is actually not a battle theme, and as such intentionally tries to aid the introduction of the techno location music. There is also a reference to another style of music that becomes more prominent in the second CD &#151 this is jazz, a genre in which Sakuraba has dabbled before, but not quite so much as his tries this time around. Little before half way through the second minute of the song there is a jazzy bass section &#151 of course, without the employment of other specific instruments, the idea is not built upon at this point, merely foreshadowed. “Moonbase” is a great track to end the first CD, keeping in tact the new themes introduced by the two prior compositions while also remaining suitably fit on its own. This is actually the fastest- moving piece of its kind yet to be featured, making for a really refreshing track, especially when viewed alongside its earlier counterparts in the game. As before, this is synth-heavy work, with only sparing use of actual instruments; evidently, that is no problem at all, because it is a way of getting across the technology message &#151 what else can you really think of when listening to the track other than gadgets, science and computers? It was nice to see the first disc return to form in the end, and I know that I usually find myself wanting to know exactly what road the music is going to turn down next, having already differed considerably style-wise. At long last it has also begun to seamlessly flow and with that which made the success of the first volume being affected upon it, expectations are heightened for the second disc.

“Twisted Base” is the first runner for Disc Two, and is a very good introduction indeed. At first it might sound like it is simply another version of “Pre-emptive Attack” and “Moonbase,” but listen carefully and objectively enough and you will realise it is really quite unique and effective. While the sample set used for the aforementioned tracks is relatively unaltered, we have some wonderful sound effects to add to the already industrial tone. The first to feature, after a slightly unproductive opening note is that of a sheet of thin metal blowing, perhaps, in wind generated by a factory-style backdrop we come to imagine as a listener, developing into a peculiar scraping metal effect, that sounds like workers filing harsh, metallic documents. After the re-use of these two sound effects in conjunction with some extra futuristic drumbeats an unusually robotic voice enters that makes a noise that sounds like a scornful laugh or machinery working against each other. There is even an inclusion of what sounds like number keys vigilantly being pressed into a phone or password protected device &#151 does it work? Certainly. It was a very nice take, I thought, on the incidental techno concept, and can create defined imagery in the mind of a listener as well as suitably supporting and adding to the actual location for a gamer. It is most unfortunate that the follow-up track couldn’t follow in the same creative footsteps. Instead, “People Inside a Fence” comes off sounding more like the town theme “Rust Colour” from the previous disc. The acoustic guitar does well in providing a relaxed country feel but also seems more liberal than the piece I compared it to, which gives the title a hint of irony. It is a pleasant song, but nothing that is going to stand out after you have finished listening to the album. At least it does not suffer from “Air Harmony” syndrome, however, which is likely to only be remembered in an annoying light. To me, and it might only be a personal opinion, when put together with the gaudy visuals of the scene in the game, “Air Harmony” becomes awfully irritating, much in the same sort of dazzling, excessively happy way that Uematsu’s “Gold Saucer” from Final Fantasy VII did. I found it overwhelming to be honest, and it put me off of the track for good, though in all fairness there was little better that could have been done with concept.

It is lucky that we have one of the best boss themes on the album to make up for the last track then. “Bitter Dance” is the only electronica rap song I can recall in an RPG, but it definitely works and grants another variety to the soundtrack. It was certainly a surprise when I first heard it in the game, especially since it accompanied a few particularly hard boss battles &#151 It gave off the power it needed to while also staying almost sardonically calm and collected. The main synth motif reminds me of an evil fairground idea through its near playfulness, and the cheesy lyrics somehow add to the song in their own funny way; “Some dance, while I put you in a trance” seems particularly appropriate wording given the stream of consciousness I get when I hear the piece &#151 irresistible &#151 dance &#151 death &#151 possessing &#151 hypnotizing are just some of the words that throw themselves at me. Why it is so effective on the album however, is that it is a fully realised piece, and by the end, just before it loops, its addictiveness has fully settled in, willing its own success. It might not be as powerful as “The Divine Spirit of Language,” but it does not need to be. The next boss theme, “Powerbroker,” takes the proposal of power to a whole new level though. Thanks, in the main, to the sinister chord progressions of the brass and despairing vocals, this seems stronger than any battle theme before it, showing off the absoluteness of the 4D beings. It inspires dread almost to the same degree as “Imperial Garden” from Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 1, and is a successful addition for it; I thought the brief use of the piano at the end worked really well too.

After the passable “The Virtual Image,” which seemed like a mix between “Pre-emptive Attack” and “Fallen Leaves,” the final dungeon piece, “Mission to the Empty Space” makes itself known. Since the last area is revolved around clocks and time, there is lots of chromatic work thrown into the composition, as well as a sound effect that also adds to the somewhat off key atmosphere. There is also the necessary expectancy built up by some of the horn passages. “Do Evil” follows up as an extra boss theme used in the dungeon at a particular point &#151 it is not a very good one, purely building tension and forewarning of some of the final battles motifs. At four minutes, I feel it is far too long, and does not have the same likeableness that “Beyond the One” from the Director’s Cut soundtrack, which was similar in many ways, supported. By the time it has finished, we are eager to learn what will come next. The pen-ultimate battle theme, “Moody Goddess” is the answer &#151 but it does not sound at all climatic. That is because it actually is not supposed to be; it is actually only the beginning of the jazz movement on the album, with the saxophone and light piano work portraying a complacent villain, who probably has no idea that it is even possible for him to be beaten. What I think is good is the way that Sakuraba has actually decided to against all odds, not use abundant choir samples as might have been expected when confronted with composing for an enemy of this ones nature. That same compliment applies to the next track also, but I like the way that this piece in particular communicates the privileges of being such a large player on a universal scale, with the music signifying wealth and lifestyle instead of authority, as it were.

“Highbrow” is the final battle theme. It actually deserves a review devoted completely to itself and nothing else, but I will do my best by giving it its own paragraph. The true question is, perhaps, who is the ‘highbrow’ here? The character that seemed ever so cool and composed in the track before and has now brought down his facade, or Sakuraba himself, seemingly the true intellectual at work in this instance. I found the last boss of Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- to be a big disappointment, so my appreciation for the accompanying music has come solely from listening to it in all its splendour on this album. It is a supreme track, which basically invalidates any pieces that might try to challenge it. “The Divine Spirit of Language,” “Bitter Dance,” and “Powerbroker” are all humbled; even old favourites “‘The Incarnation of Devil” and “Confidence in the Domination” are left gasping in awe &#151 here is the king of all Sakuraba battle themes, and the sole track that some herald as the composer’s greatest achievement. It starts with a short drum roll and some powerful opening chords that lead us into the main melody, which in itself is worthy of many of Sakuraba’s other most popular tracks. The percussion and bass guitar form an ideal urgent atmosphere, and the early piano and synth work ultimately comes off well because of them. By 2:30, we know that the development is going to be impressive too, as there is a brilliant transition to a nice, tense church organ passage, featuring some good accompanying percussion. This is shortly followed a small, effective bass section that brings us expertly to the beginning of one of the many progressive stages that stray from the original melody to all different experimental ideas, showing off the status of the battle to end all battles. The first goes down a funky techno path before returning to the main theme for a short time, setting up some quieter, demonic choir chords, bolstered by more passionate piano playing. This soon shifts again, and we are brought back to the more cinematic feeling of the brass themes that accompanied the earlier enemies, openly referencing “The Dawn of Wisdom.” Little before the halfway point through the fifth minute we are whisked off in a jazzy direction, drawing inspiration from “Moody Goddess,” though it is likely that the listener will have already forgotten that previous track due to the comprehensiveness of this one. The hearty saxophone, steady piano and ever-calm bass guitar join together here to form an ambient sense with some tribal percussion, giving the final battle piece yet another dimension. It is only so long before the strings and brass make a return and the piano gets more muddled, signifying the unchecked power at work here. After almost seven minutes we hear the revival of the original melody, which consequently leads off again, into some of the sections from before with added instrumentation, such as an overdriven guitar which features for a brief time, underscoring some threatening brass work. The way the link was made between the opening melody and the recognizable church organ part at 8:35 was especially well realized and helps give weight to the song. By the time the full ten minutes is up, it returns to an early part for the loop, providing a faintly disappointing conclusion, but mostly for the fact that it is ending at all. “Highbrow” is a masterpiece and certainly the best track on the Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2, but it is difficult to put its successfulness into words. I can only recommend that you make a point of listening to it. It marks the end of the main game work too, and the remaining pieces are only side-quest material.

There are a select few tracks that Sakuraba likes enough that he seems to arrange for all of his tri-ace soundtracks. These are taken, of course, from his previous work for the company such as the Valkyrie Profile Original soundtrack and Star Ocean -The Second Story- and are provided here as a link between the other scores, used for side-quests in the game. The first track to follow the final battle theme is a seven-minute long “Star Ocean Forever ~ Jazz Ver,” which sounds surprisingly good in its new rendition. “Mission to the Deep Space” keeps up the jazz design from the previous three tracks but adds electric guitars to the mix, resulting in an equally successful mix. “The Incarnation of the Devil'” of Valkyrie Profile fame is unfortunately a weaker arrangement, in which the organ synths and supporting pads fail to give out the power that they really should. Luckily, this has been corrected on the Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Arranged Album track “The Dawn of Wisdom ~ The Incarnation of the Devil,” which is much more successful. “Confidence from the Domination” also lacks power, though its catchy melody makes it bearable; the band recording on the Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Director’s Cut Original Soundtrack is far superior, however, in all respects. “Do Evil” is an extra boss theme for the most powerful enemy in the game only challengeable through a side-quest; it is nice that Sakuraba gave the character a track all of its own, but it really seems only mediocre after the monster final battle theme; nevertheless I liked the harpsichord work and could see some similarities to “The Dark Battle” from the Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange, which made it a respectable attempt. In the same way as Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 1, the second CD bows out with a ‘bonus track’; this is “Moody Goddess ~ Another Ver” this time around. While not as powerful as “Brass Wings ~ Another Ver,” the original jazz piece benefits from its tweaking but thanks to its shortness, leaves the listener on an interestingly anticlimactic note.


The conclusion to the music for Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- is unexpected. There is no nostalgic theme that will remind us of the musical journey we have made; this is because of the decision to split the soundtrack in two. Volume one contains half of the music from the game, featuring many of the cutscene pieces and a lack of battle themes, while volume two excels in its battle theme usage and lacks the cutscene tracks. In a way this creates quite an imbalanced feel &#151 when listening to volume one, there are constantly more atmospheric themes being effected upon the listener, with fewer light tracks interspersed to release the tension; contrarily, in Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 you get hear lots of pumping battle tracks, but fail to see Sakuraba’s more grandiose composing skills and an overall atmosphere is never really established. Indeed, it has always been said that Sakuraba has two completely different styles that he applies to all of his work – he can be both the progressive rock musician that creates tracks that span between the restrained, the thunderous and the downright unsavoury and the orchestral composer who creates sweeping string and brass melodies that are often beautifully complimentary to the ears if not always innovative. The former is featured in this volume in excess, and can be found in a variety of different ways, and might not be to everyone’s tastes. After all, video game music is a very subjective matter; some people might argue that Sakuraba’s orchestral music is much more sophisticated from a compositional standpoint, and that his battle themes often seem messy and cluttered. Other people would argue that his battle themes are great rock pieces, perfectly setting the mood for a battle sequence and that it is his string and brass melodies and more subdued work that are unoriginal and tedious. Then there are extremists; those who love everything the man makes and those who absolutely despise it.

It came as a slight disappointment to me, since I can appreciate each of these types of music, that Sakuraba’s score, and his different styles were effectively ripped in half for the CD release. I have yet to think of a reason that can persuade me to think that they were wise to choose not make Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- a 4 CD, chronologically apt soundtrack set, like with all the recent Final Fantasy’s. Sakuraba’s versatility is one of his greatest assets, yet by doing what they have, the publishers (unless it was the composer’s personal choice!) have hampered the overall quality in my eyes, and it really shows here in volume two. However, perhaps I am being too harsh. Anybody who likes one of Sakuraba’s styles and dislikes the other is sure to find the splitting a sensible and useful move; it saves having to buy a more expensive 4 CD set in which only half of the tracks will be to your tastes &#151 I can appreciate that. Anybody who likes classical and traditional RPG music is bound to like the first volume, while electronica and rock fans will probably enjoy the second. As an appreciator of both, though, I found that at some points, each volume lost out for not having such a balanced array of tracks.

Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2, as a whole, lost out even more than volume 1 in my opinion. The first disc is quite poor, and features whole clusters of bad filler tracks, and there are only a few pieces that manage to stand out amongst the crowd, such as “Expiration,” “The Divine Spirit of Language” and “So Alone, Be Sorrow ~ Rhythm Version,” The main problem was that it did not seem to start flowing effectively until the very end, when at last the futuristic techno themes began to dominate. Disc Two, fortunately, was a great success, and shows off some of Sakuraba’s old favourites in the end material and new masterworks like “Highbrow.” It does unavoidably suffer due to the poorer first disc however, because it does not feel like the climax has been steadily built up to, but rather that it just spontaneously combusts in the listener’s ears, in a joyous but unmeaning moment. Recommending purchase is, as ever, a difficult thing to do. People who have a strong inclination to rock, electronica and alternative styles would be wise to give this soundtrack a listen &#151 though it has its disadvantages, it truly contains some of Sakuraba’s finest work to date. However, if you are looking for atmosphere and consistency, you will probably find it disappointing, and that its highlights are ones that you will be skipping to. Once more, I should like to recommend that you carefully consider which volumes you choose to buy &#151 this is not like Star Ocean -The Second Story-, in which most tastes were catered for in some form or other.

Star Ocean -Till the End of Time- Original Soundtrack Vol. 2 Ross Cooper

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Ross Cooper. Last modified on January 16, 2016.

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